How Data and Digitization Are Transforming the Transport Industry

The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated what was already a rapid digitalization of the transport sector. That was a key message coming out of the International Road Union’s recent online conference, Driving the Future of Data: Connecting the Road Transport Industry.

In her opening address, European Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean stressed that there’s a seismic shift in the way Europe moves people and goods, and data must play a key role in driving the future of road transport. She’s absolutely right. Data and digitization are transforming our industry.

Four benefits of data and digitalization

Digitalizing transport operations, and securely sharing data between our clients, consumers and drivers, is making freight deliveries greener, safer, more efficient and more cost-effective:

  • There’s a huge opportunity to optimize truckloads by means of data and digitalization, which will continue to have a positive impact on the environment. Road transport assets are often underutilized – the PPMC concluded that 25% of the miles trucks run in Europe are empty miles.
  • Digitally monitoring the behavior of our drivers, so we can correct and improve driving activity and optimize training, promotes the safety of our employees and the entire community.
  • The efficiencies stemming from having real-time visibility into where their goods are and when they’ll be delivered drive significantly improved service for customers and end consumers.
  • Sustainability and safety are fully aligned with cost optimization. Using big data to predict volumes and needed capacity, along with algorithms that allocate the right resources to the required services, provides a clear cost advantage.

Leading the way

XPO has spearheaded the adoption of emerging technologies such as big data, predictive analytics and advanced robotics. A great example is XPO Connect, our interactive digital freight platform. This technology platform has enabled us to maintain a continuous connection with our customers, carriers, drivers and consumers since the pandemic hit Europe in March. It provides virtual access to our multimodal range of transportation services, using machine learning to analyze data and market conditions in seconds to promote more efficient and effective operations.

XPO Connect gives customers (shippers) visibility across multiple transportation modes in real time, introducing orders and proper digital documentation. XPO Connect gives carriers spot market rates, weather conditions, traffic and other information so they can identify both time - and cost-saving opportunities, reducing empty trucks miles.

Drivers use our Drive XPO mobile app to optimize refueling, layovers, traffic avoidance and other variables, enabling them to plan for safer routes and deliveries. Consumers can see where their goods are at any time to plan deliveries accordingly.

Technology is the lifeblood

Since our launch of XPO Connect last year, more than 15,000 registered carriers and more than 2,500 customers have connected to the platform across Europe. The Drive XPO app has been downloaded more than 200,000 times worldwide

These figures demonstrate what makes technology the lifeblood of our operations at XPO, and how data stands to transform the global supply chain. We believe innovation, propelled by scale and combined with industry experience and know-how, creates better ways to move goods into the hands of the people who need them. That’s why XPO invests approximately $550 million in technology annually.

XPO’s technologists – including over 100 data analysts – are embedded across the full breadth of our operations. They’re focused on four areas of innovation: automation and intelligent machines; visibility and customer service; our digital freight platform; and dynamic data science.

It’s clear that technology is transforming transportation and logistics. This is an exciting time for the entire transport industry, and we’re proud to be leading the way in Europe in embracing the digitalization of freight transport.